30 June 2011

Post Of The Month Club: June

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Helllooo there
Come on in :)

Today our Club will meet in a really special place -
perfect for those celebrating the summer or winter solstice

An English Shepherd's Hut

Available from Huts And Hideaways in North Yorkshire

Traditionally used by shepherds during the lambing season, 
these clever retreats-on-wheels can be seen in England as a 
playhouse, artisan studio, home office, garden shed
OR for Post Of The Month Club :)

Won't you take a step inside...
Isn't it so cute and cozy?!

Available from Artisan Shepherd Huts in West Sussex

So without further ado,
let's start our meet & greet

- Bloggers, just link up your best post of the month -
And see, you've already done the work

- Share the love by visiting a few other blogs -

- Would you like to add my button to your lovely sidebar so more can join the fun? -
Yep, we'll do this the last day of each month

- Don't forget to become a follower here too -

Thank you for stopping by!

Happy July Blogging, you cutie you ;)

24 June 2011

The Hat That Dragged Me To The Royal Ascot

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Last week a big ol' hat and I attended The Royal Ascot, 
one of Europe's most famous horse races 
(I'd never heard of it either)

Held for 300 years in a town of the same name (Ascot, not Royal)
unfussy-me had no interest in going to this fancy 5 day event

Until I heard about the intriguing 'hat lady'

An appropriate hat would easily cost £250 to buy new (approx $400)
so renting is popular (£50)

Ten of her hats went to the Royal Wedding

I'd heard that you bring your dress and shoes to Mrs Partington near Windsor-
she disappears and reappears with THE hat
No Browsing Allowed

Well, I just had to find out what that was all about
But I didn't have a cute little outfit

So after 3 days of shopping, I found a steal of a deal
A £9 dress from H&M 
And off to the 'hat lady' I went

She did find the perfect hat for me
Gigantic and beautiful in a rich burnt orange

So big in fact,
I barely made it through the bathroom stall door
and the typical 'greeting hug' was impossible with friends

I needed an extra large umbrella to cover my ginormous headwear
in case of rain

THE hat

The Royal Ascot is a major event on the British social calendar,
and press coverage of the outfits often exceeds coverage of the actual racing

Besides the hat
the other draw for me was seeing the Queen
I just think she is such an adorable woman - always smiling
impeccably dressed and a reportedly empty purse

She never misses a Royal Ascot 
for she loves horses

It's too bad I didn't place a bet
I would have won
Number 9 is my favorite number, and it won first place in the second race
So let's just say I won

We loved our 'picnic box'
- champagne, finger sandwiches, scones, Victoria Sponge Cake -
and enjoyed seeing some of my hat's friends

Many hats and fascinators were outlandish and fun
All in good spirit

'Fascinators' are attached to a headband

Honestly, it made the Royal Wedding headwear choice of Princess Beatrice make more sense
Taken out of context internationally, her fascinator looked ridiculous
but at the Ascot it would have been divine

Prince Charles, Camilla, Princesses Eugenie & Beatrice
in conservative hats

The only people that looked silly at the Ascot were 
those who did not dress up enough

Women seated in the Royal Enclosure (most expensive seating) (not where I was)
follow the dress code of a hat or fascinator
and no bare shoulders

Men in the Royal Enclosure must wear black or grey morning dress with a top hat
Traditionally, top hats were made of moleskin (literally)

Even cameramen follow the dress code

It was an unforgettable day 'at the races' with friends

I can't wait to see which hat is my date next year :)


Time for another Post Of The Month Club day - yea! 

It is a great way for you to promote your best work
and meet other fantastic bloggers

Join me June 30th & July 1st

Yep, right here :)

Ooh, wouldn't this button look lovely on your sidebar?
You can grab the code from my sidebar :)

All bloggers are welcome to join
It wouldn't be the same without you!
(more details here)

Photo credit: personal & friends
Elegant Hats For Hire: Margaret Partington, 01753 543597


21 June 2011

Political Climates

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

The other night I was asked the difference between American and British politics. And honestly, although I've been here a year, I don't know much about the national politics in the UK. But here's my long answer...

Milk or sugar for our little convo?

Words stuck in my head from an expat Brit blogger living in the US (From Sheep To Alligators): 

You don’t often find me quoting Margaret Thatcher, but she said that Europe is founded on history and America is founded on philosophy and that is absolutely true....in some ways, the constitution *is* America [whereas] the Brits...don’t have a constitution 
(emphasis added by me)
To me, this is a profound observation. Let me try to put my finger on it...

I find in the US, people are passionate or at least opinionated about politics - therefore it is a fueled conversation you steer clear of with most folks. In general, Americans don't trust their government (some say this began with President Nixon). Politics (and politicians) are always in the news. Sadly, scandals are frequent, and the two parties often spar.

I agree the United States Constitution is the heart of America. I memorized it in school. Founded on philosophical ideals, Americans have a strong feeling of their 'unalienable rights'. We find comfort in having a piece of paper with those rights spelled out. 

'Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament'
-Clark Griswold (repeatedly), 'National Lampoon's European Vacation'

On the flip-side, England has an 'unwritten' constitution, meaning it consists of many documents written over 800 years (incl Magna Carta [1215], Great Reform Bill [1832], Parliament Act [1911]). Guided by tradition and history, change is gradual. The position of Prime Minister was not simply created but evolved slowly and erratically over three hundred years. I doubt the US health care reform bill would have passed so quickly here. 

In England, there is little chatter about politics in the news or in social settings. One Brit suggested this could be due to apathy or that the political parties in the UK are not as different or polarizing as in the US.

The UK government provides many more services than the US government, including life & travel insurance (not free) and medical care (mostly free). Although taxes are higher, the government really does take care of many needs, and people feel it does a decent job in doing so. In fact, I'd say the trust and 'approval rating' of government services is much higher in most European countries than in the US.

On a final note, I find it fascinating that election for Prime Minister can occur at varying times. Within 5 years of the previous election, a particular party will call an election when they believe they are popular enough to win. A vote of no confidence by the party can also result in a general election. 

And so there's my report on current UK politics...
no report at all :)

- photos by me -
Sources: Helium and Wikipedia

16 June 2011


Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Hello, buttercup -
how I've missed our chats!

My apologies for the unannounced break -
life has become too full for the moment
for writing

Nothing says 'England' like a thatched cottage

Family time, helping at school & scrapbooking (almost done!) have taken my full attention

I'll be back shortly to show you the Cotswolds and Royal Ascot through my eyes
as well as another peek of my on-going list of UK vs US differences
Maybe throw in a photo editing tutorial?

Hope your weekend is grand!
I'll see you soon, gorgeous :)

- photo by me -

10 June 2011

Wimbledon Tennis

Last week I toured Wimbledon,
home to the oldest tennis championship in the world

Opening day is in a few weeks
- June 20th -

While I love playing tennis,
professional sports don't interest me

So I'll keep this brief and focus on interesting trivia :)

A side court for early matches & warm up practice
Media boxes behind windows

I realized early on that
there is no 'T' in the word WimbleDon

Wimbledon is the name of a lovely suburb right outside of London
-close enough to be reached by The Tube-

London skyline from Wimbledon

Wimbledon tennis traditions include a strict white dress code for competitors
and strawberries & cream for hungry spectators
(the cream is watery and thin, not whipped)

I tried some so I could report back - don't I just give & give?

{Imagine a photo of it here.
I ate it too fast to photograph}

Tennis had been an indoor sport
when Major Walter Clopton Wingfield had the idea 
to play on the grassy fields of a croquet club in 1875

That croquet club adopted lawn tennis in 1877

Famous Centre Court with its retractable roof
Although big, it still felt cozy

The Wimbledon Championships is still hosted by
'The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club' today,
a private club comprised of invited members only
(croquet is still played but in a different location)

The first tennis competition started as a clever way
to raise money for a new lawn roller to smooth the courts

The lawn roller that started it all

To keep the private club feel, you will notice no big advertising signage
I like that :)

The grass courts are completely torn up to dirt after the championship
and reseeded for the following year

Although missing Courts No. 3 & 4 will be posted by opening day,
there is no Court 13

Jumping on this 11/2 hour guided tour was quite easy with a week's notice
Just dreamy for the tennis enthusiast ;)

- all photos by me -
Read 'The Wimbledon Queue' post here

Content from tour, Wimbledon & Wikipedia

06 June 2011

Cricket & A Red Door

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

It is the cricket season in England now

I had thought cricket was a sport of a bygone era,
but it actually is played on many greens throughout the country
each Saturday and Sunday

It is a sport that I know absolutely nothing about,
but somehow I just love it

Men who look between the ages of 30 and 70
appear to play just for the love of the game
with few crowds or many paying attention

It appears sweet and pure to me,
in its quiet flow

Like gentle background music
to a perfect day

03 June 2011

The Rosy Season

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

What have you been up to this week?

We are crazy busy around here getting ready for the summer break

Shere, Surrey

This week I ambled over to Shere, one of our favorite villages

You can see my previous posts about this lovely location
here (photographic tour) and here (filming of The Holiday)

I've also been devouring my favorite monthly mag, The English Garden 
filled with tips and inspiration for the garden obsessed

I think they run a worldwide edition too


Is there a colorful 'foodie' word equivalent for 'avid gardener'?
That's me :)

We're talking pure giddiness when approaching a new English garden
And delight with twigs and petals sticking out of my hair

England is in the rose season now, with all of its deliciousness

I'll share a little tip from The English Garden June 2011 about tending roses

'Use a garlic mix one week, and then a seaweed mix the following week,
and finally 'SB Plant Invigorator' in week three.
This helps keep mildew, rust, black spot and aphids at bay'

And lastly, I decided to enter a contest for the Top 25 Expat Mom Blogs
I just figured why not?

It literally takes just two seconds for you to cast your vote,
so would you mind doing just a quicky clicky on this button?

Thanks a million :)

Wishing you an absolutely mind-blowingly wonderful weekend
wherever you are!

Shere photo by me